Major (Retd) Kenneth George Mayhew RMWO, bearer of the highest Dutch military medal of valour, has officially baptised the new Liberation Tulip at a ceremony at the London residence of the ambassador of the Netherlands, Laetitia van den Assum.
The red-yellow Triumph Tulip was cultivated by bulb-grower JUB Holland for this occasion, which marks the first step in commemorating the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45 by the Allied Forces, which started with Operation Market Garden in 1944.
Major Mayhew (97), who played an important role in the liberation of the Dutch cities of Venray and Weert and in the battle of Overloon, baptised the tulip on behalf of all Allied Forces who were involved in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Representatives of British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, Polish and US forces were also present, as was Major-General Hoitink, director of operational readiness, on behalf of the Dutch Chief of Defence Staff.
The launch of the tulip was the first milestone in a flower-themed commemoration project that will run until May 2015, when 70 years of freedom will be celebrated in the Netherlands. The Tulips for Liberators project is a collaboration of the Liberation Route Europe, Keukenhof Holland, JUB Holland and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK.
The next step in the project will be the planting of two flower mosaics this autumn, one of which will be in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London and the other in Lincolnshire, from where the RAF carried out Operation Manna. This was the first relief operation, which began on 29 April 1945 and lasted till 8 May. Ceremonies will be held at the Kew Gardens and Lincolnshire sites on the occasion of the planting and flowering of the mosaics.